Articles from Virginia
Virginia’s new Republican governor is moving to withdraw his state from a regional carbon emissions-trading exchange to which 10 coastal and New England states currently belong, a move that promises to be a major setback for the left-wing environmentalist agenda. On Jan. 15, the day he took office, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order 9, which directs state officials “to re-evaluate Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and immediately begin regulatory processes to end it.”
The nation’s largest proposed offshore wind-power facility is already encountering rough seas, with its developer acknowledging it will cost at least $2 billion more than originally estimated.
The Virginia General Assembly in 2020 passed a law called the Virginia Clean Economy Act that strips regulators of some of the traditional decision-making power over utility projects, however, and directs the SCC to approve up to $9.8 billion in customer cost recovery for the wind farm. A news release from Dominion Energy on Friday estimated the project cost at that same amount — $9.8 billion.
With Dominion, like many other utilities around the country, eager to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon, more fiascos like the one in Louisa County – whether courtesy of Big Solar or Big Wind – are in the offing. The Biden administration is eager to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, come what may. That burden will fall disproportionately on rural areas, where arable land will be used for industrial-scale wind and solar projects.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) estimated Dominion’s capital costs for offshore wind could reach $17 billion, if it chased the full 5.2 gigawatt build-out of offshore wind called for in the Clean Economy Act — and up to $37 billion total when Dominion’s possible profit is factored in. The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project would be just 2.6 gigawatts, so the full costs remain unclear. A cost projection for the project will be clearer once the utility has filed its application with the SCC this year.
Some Louisa County Board of Supervisor members who visited the property after a CBS 6 inquiry and meeting with Dominion, were critical of the project at their September 7 meeting. "It's pretty catastrophic,” Louisa Supervisor Duane Adams said. “It's really bad." "We can't let anybody clear 1100 acres ever again,” Louisa County Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes said. "The very people who approved this project also visited the site, and they said that this was a terrible situation. They called it catastrophic."
The lawsuit, filed last December by Virginians for Responsible Energy and 14 residents of Botetourt and Rockbridge counties, asserts that the DEQ permit should be vacated because the agency cut corners in a process that ignored the adverse impacts of building turbines more than 600 feet tall along a remote county ridgeline. Friday’s hearing did not address the merits of the case, instead focusing on several defenses raised by DEQ and Apex on procedural grounds.
Since announcing plans for the wind farm in 2015, Apex Clean Energy has seen a number of setbacks. The most recent came last month, when county zoning administrator Drew Pearson determined that Apex had missed a May 26 deadline for county approval of a site plan. The Charlottesville company did not qualify for an exemption passed by the General Assembly for some projects that were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearson ruled.
Instead of requiring financial assurance, as mandated by Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors agreed to a scheme where no assurance whatsoever would be required for the first five years of the project, and no assurance covering the full cost of decommissioning would be required until the 30th year of the project, even though the useful life of the solar panels is only 15-20 years. But the real problem with the decommissioning scheme is even worse than that. The board was somehow persuaded to agree that the cost of decommissioning would be reduced—“offset” is the term used—by the salvage value of the solar panels installed on the property.
Instead of requiring financial assurance, as mandated by Virginia law, the Board of Supervisors agreed to a scheme where no assurance whatsoever would be required for the first five years of the project, and no assurance covering the full cost of decommissioning would be required until the 30th year of the project, even though the useful life of the solar panels is only 15-20 years. ...The board was somehow persuaded to agree that the cost of decommissioning would be reduced—“offset” is the term used—by the salvage value of the solar panels installed on the property.
APEX Energy submitted its plans for Rocky Forge Wind for review by county zoning officials. VDOT and local emergency response officials will review the construction details to make sure it meets state transportation, local zoning and public safety regulations.
Opponents have said the giant turbines would be an eyesore, make too much noise, generate shadow flicker and pose a threat to a scenic, mountainous area and its wildlife. A lawsuit filed last year seeks to stop the project by challenging a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The state has asked that the case be dismissed; an Aug. 20 hearing is scheduled in Botetourt County Circuit Court.
Apex Clean Energy Inc. continues working toward a day when wind turbines standing atop Botetourt County’s North Mountain might generate enough energy to power up to 21,000 homes each year.
On a 3-2 vote following a public hearing, the planning commission decided that the Bealeton project was not in accord with the county’s comprehensive plan. Making sure that a project is in compliance with the plan is the first step in an approval process that moves on to consideration of a special zoning exception and then to the granting of permits.
The Culpeper County Planning Commission recently reached a unanimous consensus that a new zoning district should not be created for solar utility projects. Moving forward, the commission will continue discussing a solar utility ordinance.
The Federal Aviation Administration has found, once again, that wind turbines high above a Botetourt County mountaintop will not pose a hazard to air navigation.
Strata Solar on Friday afternoon pulled its application to build a utility scale power plant in Culpeper County, a week after the planning commission scrutinized, then denied, the request and neighbors intensely opposed it. This is the second time in as many years that an out-of-state solar company has abruptly yanked its request to build a big project on farmland in Culpeper after facing similar scrutiny and public opposition.
Eskridge is concerned that wind turbine EMFs could negatively affect the conch that bury themselves in the sandy, muddy bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. ...Dominion representatives told watermen that the EMF from a cable would be comparable to that of a “toaster oven.” [T]he fishermen questioned how that comparison was determined and whether even a small EMF could negatively affect a conch. No scientific study has been done.
Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina are teaming up on an effort to kickstart wind energy and economic development off their shores. The new initiative provides a framework for the three states to "cooperatively promote, develop, and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce," they said in a joint press release.
Dominion Energy’s two massive wind turbines loom large off of Virginia Beach’s coast.